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VPM News reporters select their most powerful work from 2022

A sign says "Jackson Ward: National Landmark District."
Before being cut in half by Interstate 95, the Jackson Ward neighborhood earned cultural comparisons to Harlem and financial comparisons to Wall Street. (Photos: Scott Elmquist/VPM News)

Throughout the year, VPM News has reported on impactful stories from across the region and the state. Including coverage of the General Assembly and the fifth anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VPM News staff collected some of their best — and favorite — reporting from the past year.

Five years after Unite the Right, Charlottesville grapples with its identity

Whittney Evans:  I had the opportunity to dig into this story in a way that I don't usually get the space and time to do. Instead of meeting people for interviews on video chats and in a cold room, I spent time with the community, during an event when community members really feel together and happy.

PolitiFact VA: Earle-Sears falsely accuses justice department of going after Virginia parents

PolitiFact VA: Slavery wasn't 'erased' from proposed Virginia history standards

Warren Fiske: One is a May 12 fact check on Winsome Earle-Sears’ False statement that Attorney General Merrick "sicced the police on parents" trying to speak at local school board meetings. The other is Dec. 14 fact check on the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee’s Mostly False claim that "the Virginia GOP education agenda [would] erase slavery from VA history." Education has become a highly-charged political issue in Virginia, and these two fact checks show how we held people from both parties accountable for their statements.

Reconnect Jackson Ward aims to make residents whole again

Jahd Khalil: I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a Richmonder who hasn't driven on Interstate 95, and it's important to know who bore the cost for shaving some time off of our commutes.

Young Virginians ready to vote with climate change in mind

Patrick Larsen: Young people are the ones who will see the most impacts of climate change. So, after big policies like the Inflation Reduction Act and Virginia Energy Plan filled the news this year, I wanted to hear from young activists about how the climate crisis motivates them to vote, lobby and even sue their home state.

A former VCU student moved out of her dorm after two weeks, but Virginia took her to court for the full semester's rent during the pandemic.

Megan Pauly: After our " Dreams Deferred" series came out in late 2021, I continued to report on students — like Kennedy Burke — whose story illustrates some ongoing, systemic problems in the higher education system. After it ran, a listener reached out to us wanting to help pay off her student debt.

Abortion wasn’t always a partisan issue in Virginia

Megan Pauly: It felt extremely important to dig through the archives to get more historical context about past policy discussions about abortion in Virginia after Roe v. Wade was overturned. It was interesting to discover that the issue wasn't always as heated as it is now. In the process, I was able to interview a woman at the center of the debate in the late 1960s and '70s.

Advocates warn of weed ‘oligopoly’ as Virginia looks to speed up sales

Ben Paviour: There's a lot of money to be made from cannabis. This story examined who stood to gain in Virginia.

‘FARTCAR’: The license plates Virginia DMV won’t let you have

Ben Paviour: This story was a welcome distraction from politics.

Chesterfield and Henrico residents are fed up with speeding

Ian M. Stewart: Speeding- and traffic-related deaths in the region are at an all time high. This breaks down what citizens can do.

In Cumberland, how will a planned landfill impact a historic Black school?

Samantha Willis: When Pine Grove School was built in 1917, Black Americans were relegated to second class citizenship in every facet of American life. Many Black communities, including in rural Cumberland County, realized that education was a way out of that oppression, and pooled their resources to build and sustain schools like Pine Grove. Pine Grove educated generations of Black Virginians in the past. It's being transformed into a historical and cultural resource that can educate all Virginians in the future.

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.